As a kid, I always loved New Year’s Day. There seemed to be a freshness in the air that I couldn’t quite get enough of. Maybe it was the fact that so many folks tried to quit smoking that the air quality actually improved…who knows. What I do know is that ever since an early age, I loved the thought of starting over. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’d love to find some of those old resolutions I made. What could an eight year old possibly vow to change?

1. Get up earlier to watch more Speed Racer?

2. Pick on younger brother with more regularity?

3. Learn all the lyrics to “Jesse’s Girl”?

In any event, my resolutions, like most of ours I’m afraid, were short lived. It only took a few days for the novelty to wear off and then I was right back where I started. Only this time, I had the added weight of guilt to deal with. So, let me get this straight. I don’t like who I am and I want to change, but I can’t even do that right?

Happy New Year indeed.

Let me be clear about something. Examining yourself and wanting to change is not a bad thing. In fact, we hear at ScreamFree think it’s the most important ingredient to becoming the parent you want to be. We believe that in order to be a parent who can keep his or her cool in any circumstance, you have to be a pretty healthy person. You have to take care of yourself. We call it “putting on your own oxygen mask”. The airlines teach us that by taking care of yourself, and placing the life-giving oxygen mask on yourself first, you are increasing the chances that you’ll be able to help someone else. In ScreamFree terms, when we can take care of our deepest physical, emotional and spiritual needs, we are in a position of strength when others need us most.

This time of year, when many people are doing a bit of soul-searching and self-evaluation, this notion of the “oxygen mask” doesn’t seem too far fetched at all. That’s why tons of people make resolutions in the first place. The problem lies in the fact that most of us only allow ourselves to think about this once a year. Once that new wall calendar has marked a few weeks, we start to realize that lasting change, even if it’s extremely important to us, is really difficult. It takes diligence, it takes patience, it takes time away from our families. It takes putting on that oxygen mask not just one time, but over and over again.

So, most of us give up. We shrug our shoulders and we think that we just don’t have enough willpower to tough it out. Then, we end up feeling crummy about ourselves and far too often, we take that out on those we love the most.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not about willpower or lack of gumption. The real reason that we give up on our resolutions is because we feel guilty. We don’t like to focus on ourselves, to do what it takes to fulfill those deepest needs because it feels selfish. We’ve bought the lie that says we should always put others in front of ourselves. This is ironically a very selfish way to live. When you neglect yourself for the sake of others, you are placing your own happiness and health into their hands and you are depending on them to take care of you. That is a needy and weak position to be in and it puts an extreme burden onto the very people you are supposed to be caring for.

One of my favorite historical characters, the great monk, Bernard of Clairveaux, considered the highest level of love to be this: “I love me for your sake.” To truly love your children, to be the calm, confident parent you know they need, you have to be a person of strength. You have to take good care of yourself. You have to get out that oxygen mask and continue to put it on. Most of all, you have to get over the guilt trip.

So this year, when you look over your list of resolutions, put this one at the top:

I will take care of myself so that others don’t have to.

This is a Revolutionary Resolution that will dramatically increase the chances of you having a truly happy, healthy, and utterly ScreamFree 2008.

Author's Bio: 

Jenny Runkel is the co-founder of ScreamFree Living and Director of Content. For more information, visit